Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Captain Blood (1935)

Come sail away with Captain Blood.

Director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood) delivers a fantastic effort with a super cast, great romance, solid laughs and plenty of adventure.

Peter Blood (Errol Flynn) has put his violent ways behind him and "became a man of peace, not of war." He's a doctor in England. He's accused of treason when he treats an insurgent during the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685.

Blood is banished to the West Indies where he's sold into slavery. The slave with an attitude catches the eye of Arabella Bishop (Olivia de Havilland), the beautiful niece of hard-driving mine owner Col. Bishop (Lionel Atwill). She buys him. He goes to work for her uncle.

Blood uses his leverage as a competent doctor over the two boobs who pass as physicians on the island (Hobart Cavanaugh, Donald Meek) to gain favour with the island's governor. He plans an escape with other rebels and, with the help of a Spanish pirate attack, succeeds.

Col. Bishop is livid and vows revenge. His niece is heartbroken at losing the man she secretly loves. Blood becomes a success stalking ships in the Caribbean. Against his better judgment, he agrees to a pact with a French pirate, Levasseur (Basil Rathbone), who doesn't share his gentlemanly ways.

When Levasseur captures a British vessel with the lovely Arabella on board, Blood aims to free her from his comrade and get her back to Port Royal, even though he'll be confronted by numerous British ships. Death appears inevitable. His crew threatens to mutiny.

Flynn is great as Blood, quick with a quip and handy with a sword. Atwill and Rathbone make two fine villains on land and sea. Atwill is a particularly nasty fellow as he literally brands troublemakers. de Havilland is lovely and strong as Arabella.

Captain Blood is one of the finest swashbuckling films ever made. "Courage, join with me." You'll be glad you did.

RATING: 8/10

FUN FACTS: Errol Flynn's first role was as Fletcher Christian in In the Wake of the Bounty. Basil Rathbone's late career included, sigh, appearances in Hillbillys in a Haunted House and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini.

Captain Blood received Oscar nods including three write-in nominations (director, picture, recording). Olivia de Havilland, born in 1916, is still alive and lives in Paris, France.

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